Pakistan is a land of contradictions. It fights terrorism on its soil yet it breeds terrorists within its territory. It calls itself a democracy yet behind the scene, the Army is in-charge. It’s a nuclear power yet it can’t generate enough power to meet its energy needs. It signs a bilateral agreement with India yet doesn’t abide by its provisions.
Violations along the LoC are common over three hundred have happened this year alone. Eyewitness accounts and media reports point to the exchange of gunfire that's far more intense than it has ever been in the past decade or more. Welcome departure from the past is the free rein given to India’s security forces to conduct their operations for the end result retaliation of a magnitude that deters future misadventure.
Some have called the latest ceasefire violations a retribution for a hockey match lost recently. If losing a match can trigger such a violent response, why not observe a moratorium on all sports activities between the two countries? As we all know, the Kashmir issue is far more contentious than just losing a hockey tournament.
Military confrontation shouldn’t be a whimsical pursuit. Unless driven to, civilized nations don’t indulge in it. But for the Pakistan Army, first staging a conflict, then barking false accusations of unprovoked aggression and finally pretending to be a victim of the alleged Indian hegemony are an effort to internationalize a dispute that has long been adjudicated for bilateral resolution.
Internal threats: Pakistan’s internal threats have spun out of control. That partly explains the violations along the LoC as a diversionary tactic. Accusations of election fraud can derail this faltering democracy without notice. Economy is in shambles. Foreign debt has joined hands with inflation to bankrupt the country. Widespread illiteracy, poverty and drive against polio are unsheltered orphans. Instead, international fugitives, terrorists, smugglers, and militants with bounties on their heads are sheltered and protected by its largest terrorist organization, the ISI.
A sprawling enterprise and a dominant force that has scripted Pakistan’s destiny throughout its life, the Army has steadfastly rejected all peace initiatives with India. It views peace with India a self-inflicted wound that, if enacted, will bleed its enviable privileges dry to the last drop. For those that believed the army was beyond anybody's reach, ironically, the internal turmoil has arrived at a point where even the armed forces need protection from the destructive forces that they once helped create and nurture. Unleashing war on militants while causing widespread displacement of its own people, Zarb-e-Azb is the answer to a growing number of increasingly sophisticated attacks and successful security breaches by the Islamic fundamentalist forces against the army, the navy and major airports.
Law and Order is non-existent. Human rights violations are an intimate part of the fundamentalist Islamic culture. Atrocities against women are condoned. Intolerance against non-Muslim denominations is high. An environment of fear and intimidation against them has created a large pool of asylum-seekers, scrambling to escape persecution and extortion not from only the blasphemy laws, but also from the extremist groups that roam freely and with complete impunity. Kidnappings, target killings and suicide bombings are a commonplace. Cannibalism and organ trade are the new kids on the block perhaps they are an ingenious disposal mechanism for the political assassinations and contract killings that occur unimpeded.
External pressures: Mistrust, jealousy and obsession to outdo are the defining elements of Pakistan’s foreign policy towards India. Since inception, false insecurities have kept it from enjoying the fruits of peace and friendship that India desires and both countries deserve.
Fortunes can turn on a dime. Pakistan wasn’t always as one sees it today it has seen better days. On three separate occasions providence has turned Pakistan into a country of prime strategic significance to the US interests. But India-centric policy has robbed it of the tremendous opportunities that once paved its path.
First opportunity appeared during General Yahya Khan’s reign when, mystified and obsessing over China, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger were desperately looking for a conduit to link them to Beijing. Handsomely rewarded for his bidding, Yahya Khan still lost it to his nation's ego that ended with West Pakistan dropping 'West' from its identity and East Pakistan picking a new name for itself Bangladesh.
Second time, it was the Russians invading Afghanistan. For its strategic location, the turn of events once again stacked Pakistan next to America’s financial rewards for training and equipping the Mujahedeen with advanced American military gear and sending them to drive the Russians out. Putting pilfered and unaccounted weapons left behind by the Americans in the hands of a trained fighting force itching do Islam’s bidding, Pakistan's transformation into a rogue State came full circle. It was ready to follow General Zia-ul-Haq's dream to inflict a thousand cuts on India.
Arising from the ashes of the Twin Towers in New York, a far bigger opportunity than the two before, awaited Pakistan. It was a universal tragedy mourned by everyone outside the Muslim world that, for the third and the final time, reaffirmed Pakistan’s strategic value this time as an ‘equal partner’ in America’s fight against Al-Qaida. As a coalition partner, General Parvez Musharraf was ready to oblige. Rewards were going to be astounding.
Wrong choices: Pakistan’s claim as an equal partner in US’s fight against terrorism is ‘overhyped’ and ‘undeserved.’ Undeserved because Pakistan didn’t abide by the partnership rules it never intended to. Instead, it was undermining the US efforts by covertly keeping the spigot of the financial and military assistance stuck open. Significant resources got redirected to fortify its India-specific arsenal militants, insurgents and terrorists.
Just a single opportunity could have helped any third world country to break the cycle of deprivation and rise to its full potential. Pakistan was blessed with three. Each under a different General-turned-dictator, it chose to squander all. With financial aid pouring in, it may have accrued monetary rewards, but repeatedly ignoring to redeem the wealth of goodwill that accompanied its strategic significance, Pakistan has botched its multiple opportunities to transform a poverty-stricken country into a modern and responsible nation.
With terror training camps strewn across the country and terrorism now its major export, Pakistan has deservedly earned disrepute as a haven where Islam’s fundamentalists and radicals converge making it a fertile breeding ground for the next generation of extremists, militants and terrorists.
Shifting fortunes: Recent humiliation extended to Pakistan’s PM by his own countrymen in New York City with prominent display of “Go Nawaz Go” placards was inherently disconcerting. That, against the backdrop of an unprecedented reception hosted in honor of India’s new PM, was bound to generate feelings of despair. To make matters worse, raising the Kashmir issue and seeking UN intervention, Nawaz Sharif’s appeal from the august podium at the UN Security Council was a muffled echo that only an empty hall can produce.
UN delegates were in no mood to listen to the sob story Pakistan was going to repeat for the umpteenth time. Perceptive and wise, they were waiting to hear about the new era of friendship and cooperation among responsible nations an electrifying message that Narendra Modi would deliver two days later.
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